January 10, 2007

Show of the Year

That is Dan Deacon's video for BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG.

On the 17th of last month I went to quite possibly the 2nd greatest show of the year. (I say second greatest because I went to New York in March simply to see the Prodigy, making that show not only THE show of the year for me, but the most money I've ever spent to see a band [about 650 gil]). The line up was as follows:

Transistor Radio Sound
Alexis (aka Alexis Gideon, aka Alexis the Band)
Dan Deacon
Matt & Kim

The show was at Rhinoceropolis, which meant even though the word on the street was that the show was starting at 9, you show up at 10. When I arrived (a little past 10), Denverite Nick (who is the core and main member of TRS) was just setting up. He had a xylophone on a piece of carpet on the ground (the carpet was there because the floor of Rhinoceropolis is cement as it is, in fact, a modified warehouse of sorts), a speaker, a looping pedal, microphone, guitar, and a floor tom with a 14" crash attached to it. He was surrounded by little prayer candles, the kind you can buy at grocery stores. The candles were lit, the lights were turned down, and he started.

Every time I've seen Nick perform it is much different from the last time I saw him. It seems that since co-founding Still Soft Recordings he's gotten more and more experimental, which is awesome, because he is always fun to watch, and the songs he makes are so full of heart. At one point Kara (formerly of Team Awesome) and the drummer of Hunter Dragon (who I assume is the only member, though the myspace says otherwise) joined him on "stage" (Kara on xylophone and the drummer of Hunter Dragon on floor tom) and performed a few songs that they had practiced and toured with a few months prior. They had a little trouble remembering how the songs went, but it was entertaining all the same. Unfortunately, I don't have any recordings of his newest style of music. These older ones will have to do for now (though he has others on his personal web site that you can d/l):

Transistor Radio Sound - Go Out At Nite
Transistor Radio Sound - Don't Wake

Up next Travis (another Denverite), otherwise known as Pictureplane, took the "stage," setting up the monster that is his keyboards and pedals. One thing that I can always say about Pictureplane is that it is some of the dancy-ist, and Loudest, live music you can see in all of Denver. He plays Loud as hell. This show, however, was not as bad. His set included some new songs that were pretty good, though I still like most the older stuff more. Here is a sampling of his genius:

Pictureplane - Double Sets of Lungs Now (my personal favorite)
Pictureplane - Neon Hearts For Eyes

Travis broke his monster down, and Alexis built his up. I was particularly interested in seeing what he was gonna bring to the table, as I'd never heard of him. I assumed it was gonna be good, because Rhinoceropolis usually doesn't have shitty acts. Boy was I right. Alexis had set up the xylophone used earlier by Nick (as for who owned the xylophone is anyone's guess), a series of looping pedals and distortion/effect/wa-wa pedals, a guitar, and a mic. Alexis proceeded to "build" his song by playing something on or through one of his many devices and looping it (every once and a while he would switch things up by dropping beats or adding more or effecting the tunes in some way) and, after the music was "built" (I hope that term is making sense), we would rap over it. The closest thing I can come to describing the style of rap is Why? on the album Elephant Eyelash. It was good, and weird. Unfortunately Alexis' studio stuff just isn't as good as live. I dunno, maybe I just can't get into it because I saw him make it right there in front of my eyes, and it was just so much more personal. Here is some stuff I scrounged up:

Alexis - Underwater Carousel

Alexis - Oh No
Alexis - Casio Elation

Before the show I had gone to a little coffee shop I like to frequent prior to going to shows that goes by the name of St. Mark's. While there I ran into a friend of a friend (she and I had never really "hung out" or anything). She and I chatted for a while and another friend of a friend showed up, and he joined the conversation. I came to discover that they too were going to the show that night. I asked if they had heard of any of the last three bands, and the first friend said she had heard of Dan Deacon, and had heard that he was just plain awful. She had never actually heard his music, mostly because of the strong recommendations not to. This got me pretty stoked about Dan's performance.

Finally Dan's turn was up. He had a large table that was covered in pedals and other devices, including a green skull which we would later learn lights up. This awkward, overweight, nerdy guy who looked to be well on his way to 30 scurried around setting up his equipment. After quite a long time of just watching him set things up, he was finally done. The lights were turned down, and then the magic started.

Dan Deacon began talking, and nearly didn't stop. He started out (all ready out of breath [he said because of the altitude {understandably so}]) telling us that last year he made a resolution to doa count down before every song, but that by the second time he did it it was all ready boring, so he had to come up with a way to make it interesting. This meant that every time he counted down he would do it a little differently. I don't claim to remember how he had us do it, but suffice to say it was the best time I ever had counting down (and then back up, and then skipping the even ones on the way back down, and then saying the last 4 in a sexy voice while doing the first seven as though there was a rabid panda bear chasing me... etc.). After we counted down, he started the music, and it was damn near the Dancy-ist thing I've ever heard. this maybe one of those things you just need to be there for so you can experience the moment, but now I just wanna have a freak out session anytime I hear anything by that man. Every song was an anthem to movement and yelling. I nearly danced my self to death. Between the songs I nearly had a lung collapse because I was laughing so hard. That man can say the freaking funniest things ever. I won't even attempt to re-tell one in text form because there is no way it would do it justice. See him. For now, hear him:

Dan Deacon - Big Big Big Big Big
Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat

After the exhaustingly well done performance put forth by Dan Deacon, Matt and Kim set up their keys and drum set, took their places, shone their smiles (the most smilingist two people I've ever seen, it was awesome), and rocked the house. They didn't talk much between their songs, sighting that Dan Deacon had pretty much said everything there was to say. The most memorable part about their set was when this Huge guy next to me (who one could clearly see was a big fan of Matt and Kim because he too shone his great big smile) asked me to help him form a human pyramid. I looked at him, and he looked at me showing that he was 100% serious, and I said "heck yes." He got the guy on his left in on the deal too, and half way into the song, the big guy signaled to us, we got down on our hands and knees, and people just seemed to know what to do. soon we had a human pyramid (though I don't know exactly how high, as I was on the bottom. I do know that it was at least 3 levels high though), and it was triumphant. The levels climbed down and we got back up before the end of the song, which is when Matt and Kim remarked that that was probably the coolest thing that had ever happened at any of their shows. I was, of course, more than happy to be a part of it. After that, my adrenaline was pumping far too much, and I danced my freeking mind out. I was sore for the next three days I danced so hard. I've never sweat so much in the winter (that was probably too much info ... oh well). Here are some songs by those beautiful two people:

Matt and Kim - Yea Yeah
Matt and Kim - Verbs Before Nouns
Matt and Kim - Silver Tiles

That's it. Best Denver Show maybe ever for me. Make sure to check out their myspace pages. They are linked above, but heck, I'll link them here at the bottom too:

Transistor Radio Sound
Alexis (aka Alexis Gideon, aka Alexis the Band)
Dan Deacon
Matt & Kim